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How to Take Space in a Relationship without Breaking Up

Couple showing how to take space in a relationship without breaking up
Couples should know how to take space in a relationship without breaking up.

I need some time to think. I think I need some space.

Do these lines seem familiar to you? Have you ever said them yourself?

Regardless, one thing is certain: being told that can be scary. In fact, they’re often a precursor to a more permanent end to a relationship.

But we shouldn’t fear taking breaks in a relationship, as risky and threatening as they may seem. Sometimes, asking for space can save a relationship, and can even make it better.

As a matter of fact, it’s important for couples to learn how to take space in a relationship without breaking up. Yes—it’s possible!

The first step to taking a healthy break is to understand why they are necessary. A lot of people don’t get this, and therefore can’t tell the difference between needing space and breaking up.

So let’s learn the value of breaks, so you can determine whether a future break becomes a healing period or a death knell for your relationship.

Why Men Need Space

Let’s begin with the man in the relationship. Because men tend to be less open and expressive compared to women, the way they handle stress and negative emotions can easily be misinterpreted as disinterest in the relationship. So when a guy says he needs to focus on himself, don’t immediately think the worst.

Men need space for many reasons. First, they’re just as vulnerable and susceptible to stress as women are.

Sure, people often label them as the “rock” in relationships; they’re supposedly unemotional and are expected to react logically to everything. However, logic doesn’t always win out, especially in stressful situations. Because a lot of men tend to bottle up their emotions, they need space to allow these emotions, stresses, and negative feelings to disperse.

Second, they may feel their relationships are moving too fast. Don’t get this wrong: in most situations, men who feel this way do love their partners! They just fear they’re slowly losing themselves in their relationships.

Sometimes, they ask for some distance because it allows them to process their problems properly. Be a supportive partner and give him space when he’s stressed.
All he needs is a little bit of time to destress. Don’t worry, it’s not like you need to give him 3 days or a week. A short thinking break will do.

Other Important Reasons to Take a Break in a Relationship

We’ve established that breaks, when done with great care and sensitivity, can lead to a better relationship. If you begin to see cracks in your relationship and notice the following signs, it may be an indication that a healthy break is in order.

1. One or both of you have become too clingy.

Many individuals in relationships may not be aware that they have become too clingy. It’s not an anomaly: we are a species that crave closeness and intimacy! And because you can’t get enough of your partner, you don’t realize that you’re making your relationship suffocating.

A couple hanging out in a classroom
Clinginess may be why men need space from their partners.

In some cases, clinginess stems from insecurity. The stronger the insecurity and emotional baggage, the more they want to keep their partners close.

Creating a healthy separation is an acceptable response. You two don’t need to be together all the time to prove your love.

2. You are hounded by personal issues.

You may have personal problems that require your full attention. And you may have issues that are so overwhelming that it causes stress to seep into every aspect of your life.

You end up shutting yourself out from everyone because you don’t want to look weak or become a potential burden, especially to your partner.

While you may need your partner’s help to overcome your own struggles, it can also be acceptable to take time off. Just don’t leave without saying a word to your partner. Explain to them that this is temporary and that you need to solve your problems by yourself. Keep them in the loop by telling them your whole story and why you need some distance. But give them assurance that at the end of the tunnel, better days await with them in the picture.

3. You fight too frequently.

Are your misunderstandings and fights becoming too frequent? If so, you’ll need to learn how to take space in a relationship without breaking up. The possibility of an irreparable partnership will loom further if you let your issues linger.

Stepping back and assessing your situation is much better than constant spatting. Space allows you to figure out your issues’ roots without the screaming matches.

4. You are having doubts about your relationship.

We won’t deny that asking for space can be alarming, especially if you don’t know what spurred the request. One of the reasons for that is when you start to doubt if the relationship is right for you.

There’s no telling when these doubts arise. Sometimes, they happen a few months after a relationship starts, or creep in to an already long and established relationship.

Your partner admitting their doubts to you may hurt your self-esteem, but some people do need a little more time to figure out their thoughts. Some folks in long-term relationships go through this too, especially when the relationship grows stale and feels directionless.

As much as this hurts, don’t let the pessimism consume you. Set your feelings aside for a while and be objective. Your partner may be asking for space, but that doesn’t mean they don’t love you anymore.

Does Space Mean Breaking Up?

Couples don’t need to be joined at the hip. People often look at space as a bad thing, when in reality, it’s not. Just because your partner gives you plenty of space doesn’t mean your relationship is falling apart.

Low-angle shot of a woman
If your partner gives you plenty of space for your personal life, you’ve got nothing to worry about.

Here are reasons why asking for space may be your best option:

a. Asking for space means you still want your partner around.

There’s a difference between wanting time alone and removing your partner from your life. Once you’ve gotten your time off, you’ll feel refreshed and ready for more quality time with your lover.

b. Creating some distance means breaking an unhealthy pattern.

It’s unfortunate, but many couples tend to fall into unhealthy patterns and habits as their relationships go on. Giving each other space allows you to assess, realize, and identify how toxic these patterns are, and inspire you to do better.

c. Give each other space when you feel suffocated.

Spending time with our partners can feel suffocating when overdone. Do they unceasingly text you? Do they insist on non-stop quality time on specific days of the week? If you’re facing similar dilemmas, you may need some distance before your relationship gets too cramped.

How to Ask for a Break the Right Way

If you value your relationship, you’ll need to know how to take space in a relationship without breaking up. Asking for space can be extremely tricky and approaching it the wrong way can spark an argument.

Be calculating with your approach. Here are a few pointers:

1. Determine your reasons.

Why do you need space in the first place? Make sure your reason should answer your needs. If your issue violates a non-negotiable, perhaps a breakup is a more fitting solution.

2. Talk about it in person.

Unless your physical distance poses a problem, don’t be a coward and have discussions over the phone. You and your partner should pay attention to each other’s body language, which is something you can’t pick up virtually.

3. Establish rules.

How much do you plan on communicating with each other? Will you date other people as your break happens? You’ll need to answer these questions to set ground rules for regularity.

4. Make the most out of your space

Do some soul-searching during your free time. Pick up new hobbies and return to the old ones you’ve been missing. Catch up with loved ones you haven’t seen in a while. Whatever you do, the point is to know yourself better before returning to your partner.

A little bit of space is normal and healthy in relationships. Whether that happens by circumstance or design, know your limits as a couple and approach the need to take space with great sensitivity and empathy for each other. Knowing how to take space in a relationship without breaking up will help you and your partner become a better tandem in the long run.

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